Cologne du Maghreb (Tauer)

Cologne du Maghreb is an all-natural product, which means Andy Tauer wasn't kidding when he called it a cologne. Seventeenth century continental Europeans didn't have synthetics at their disposal when making perfume, so they relied on simple oils and distillations of raw materials for their compositions. Andy has plenty of synthetics at his disposal, yet chooses to work with naturals as much as humanly possible, the mark of someone who appreciates nature's many gifts. This is a flawless composition, a striking citrus/neroli explosion up front, followed by labdanum-fueled rose and cedar, with the requisite smattering of green herbs, and a hint of clove and cardamom for depth and warmth. It starts fresh and crisp and bright, and winds up with an oriental vibe in the drydown.

Normally I take Andy's perfumes very seriously, but I can't help but feel a twinge or two here. This one makes me grin. There is an unintentionally funny edge to the composition, due in no small part to its drydown. At first it feels very "conventional guy," the sort of citrus-heavy aftershavey familiarity found in the medicine cabinets of many American and European men. Its quality is several notches above aftershave, but ultimately this is straight-up citrus, which in 2014 is a no-frills feature. Nevertheless, the man who wears this type of Eau is usually a sane, dependable person that everyone likes having around.

Then it happens: CdM goes all lounge lizard on me. You wouldn't think notes as staid and traditional as rose and labdanum could join forces to become seventies raunch, but they do. There's a bit of Halston Z-14 in Cologne du Maghreb. It's a skunky, woody, sweaty feeling, loaded with imaginary pheromones and clueless cheer. When the cedar cuts in full-force, I begin to think of the movie Ishtar, which on the surface seems like bad news, I know. It's not though, because Ishtar is an underrated masterpiece of eighties comedy, with two bonafide Hollywood leading men delivering laugh after awkward laugh. Lyle Rogers and Chuck Clarke weren't losers. They were just cheesy. But their masculinity was the most virile kind, the stuff of blind chance takers, unwitting adventurers, nothing-to-lose optimists living without a prayer. Anything that channels Lyle and Chuck, intentionally or not, deserves a spot on my shelf.

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